If Wishes Were...
by Pamela Rose
To most people, the day they had just experienced would be considered dreadful. But then again, most people's means of livelihood didn't include being shot at, beaten up, chasing nor being chased by a motley assortment of lowly criminals and nutters. Dreadful, like beauty, was in the eye of the beholder, he supposed.
Doyle pondered all this as he leaned against the wall and waited with saintly patience for Bodie to figure out which pocket he'd left his keys in this time. Inspecting his softly cursing partner from head to toe, Doyle came to the conclusion that their day could most definitely be rated as trying -- but it didn't quite come up to dreadful on the CI5 descriptive scale. Bodie was obviously in one piece, more or less, and although Doyle hadn't had the chance to do a proper inventory on himself, he reckoned he wasn't seriously damaged. One could hardly count bruises, scrapes and the odd pulled muscle as damage, after all. Damage was relative, too, in Cowley's books. Relative to how soon he could throw you back in with the lions.
Actually, a lot of things were relative. If he'd been a lorry driver, for instance, he'd have to face the terror of London traffic every day...But then, they did that in CI5, too, and usually at breakneck speeds with someone trying to puncture the tires with a 44 magnum filled with dumdums, so perhaps that wasn't such a good example...Relatively speaking, that was...
Doyle found himself nearly sliding bonelessly down the wall before realizing he'd almost analyzed himself into a doze. Irritated, he delivered a light kick to Bodie's shin with the toe of his trainer.
"Will you, f'christ's sake stop pissin' around and open the bloody door?"
Bodie let his head fall forward against the wooden panel with a forlorn thump. "I seem to have lost the bloody keys, haven't I?"
"What? How the hell did you manage that?"
Bodie moaned softly and gave the door another thump with his forehead. "Mebbe when I was hangin' by me toenails from that four-story block of flats while you chatted up the villain's bird."
"Now, be fair!" Doyle objected. "She had a sawed-off shotgun a foot from my gut -- cocked and loaded, I might add. Besides, I got there before all the blood had run to your pointy head, didn't I?"
Bodie lifted his head from the door panel and just looked at him. He was not amused.
"I don't suppose you happen to have the spare key on you?" he asked tiredly, although a quick visual survey of Doyle's skin- tight jeans made the question rhetorical. A bit of lint would have choked to death in those pockets. There was nothing Doyle hated more than spoiling the line of his faded, patched designer dungarees.
"I left 'em in my coat pocket back at HQ," Doyle admitted. "Never mind, I'll climb through a window, shall I?"
Bodie caught his arm firmly. "Oh no. You'll set off every alarm at headquarters -- maybe even wake up the Cow. Oh no, son. He's liable to send us out into the cruel world again and, frankly, I'm just not up to it at present. Let sleeping bastards lie."
Doyle regarded the door thoughtfully. "I could pick the lock, I suppose."
Bodie sighed. "Not unless you've a hairpin hidden in that mop of yours. Drive me back to your place. I'll make do on your sofa. Right now I could sleep on a bed of nails -- not that there's much difference, come to think of it."
Reluctantly, Doyle led the way back to the Escort, filled with nightmare visions of 30 quid worth of groceries going missing from his kitchen. Might as well invite a hill of army ants as 3.7; both tended to leave barren cupboards in their wake.
To Doyle's mild surprise, however, once at his flat, Bodie by-passed both the kitchen and the liquor cabinet. He politely, if a bit stiffly, asked Doyle if he could have the shower first, and then disappeared into the bath.
Doyle watched the steam pour from under the door, and wondered idly if he'd missed something important. Bodie had said very little all day, now that he stopped to think about it. Even before things heated up and lead started flying, his partner had been atypically moody, almost sullen. Doyle, as usual, wrapped up in his own meditations, had only noted the difference absently.
The phone rang before he could pinpoint the problem. Still unbuttoning his shirt, he answered it.
"Doyle here. Yeh? You're certain it's him? That's great. Sure, I'll tell him."
He dropped the phone back in the cradle as Bodie was coming out of the bath in one of his robes. He went straight to the airing cupboard and collected a blanket and pillow.
"That was Harrison. They've caught the bugger."
Bodie looked no more than vaguely interested -- odd, considering it had been him Milkis had been trying to kill for two days. The contract had been to keep Bodie from reaching the witness stand. The bullets chucked at Doyle had been more out of general principle.
"You don't seem very pleased," Doyle observed, removing his shirt and starting on his jeans.
"Oh, I'm pleased. I'm just too bloody knackered to take it in properly. Where'd they nab him?"
"Sweet Sally talked. He was rigging a bomb under your car when they caught him."
Bodie sat down on the couch with a sigh. "Marvelous. Hope they remembered to remove that as well."
Doyle kicked his abandoned jeans back in the general direction of the bedroom. "Okay, let's have it. What's wrong?"
"You've been moping around all day. What's the problem?"
The blue eyes lifted in rueful astonishment. "Doyle, today I have been in no less than two car chases, one punch up, almost been pushed off a roof, and been shot at and/or chased every hour on the hour since noon. It is now 2:00 am. When, pray tell, did I find the time to 'mope'?"
Doyle shrugged. "Between car chases and shoot ups, I suppose."
Bodie groaned and dropped his face in his hands. "I give up."
"So what's wrong?" Doyle persisted.
"Nothing's wrong!" Bodie blasted out. "And I wasn't moping!"
Doyle jumped at the unexpected shout. "Christ, I was only asking. You don't have to pop me eardrums and wake up the whole block."
"Listen, Ray," Bodie said in a more normal tone. "What's with all this deep concern all of a sudden?"
Doyle opened his mouth to answer and then shut it abruptly, realizing he had no idea what to say. Finally, he offered tentatively, "You just didn't seem yourself, is all. No air hostess jokes."
Bodie's smile was wan. "Didn't realize you'd miss them."
"Neither did I," Doyle replied, a little surprised.
Bodie's expression softened. "I had a bad day, is all. I'm tired. Maybe there was just one too many close calls; maybe I've had one too many people trying to kill me. It tends to wear a person down. It'll be better tomorrow. Go to bed, Doyle."
Ray started to say something else, but decided against it. He took a shower instead. Unfortunately, he tended to think deep thoughts in the shower. Some people sang, some people jacked off -- Doyle thought deep thoughts.
These thoughts, however, tended more and more to involve Bodie. This might or might not have been related to what other people did in showers (i.e., jacking off), but it was certainly similar.
Doyle had been aware for some time now -- four years, eight months, sixteen days to be precise -- that he would very much like to trip his smugly attractive partner into the sack. Bodie, however, was either very nimble on his feet or extremely thick. Doyle had done everything, barring throwing himself on Bodie's neck and crying, "Take me!" And Doyle had the sinking suspicion that if he tried it, Bodie would just pat him on the shoulder and answer, "Sure, sunshine, where?"
Doyle sighed, rubbed soap into his chest hair, and thought deeper. Okay, sure, maybe he could actually break down and tell Bodie how he felt about him, but that was skating on pretty thin ice and Doyle had wobbly ankles.
Coming right out and telling the berk he was in love with him would put Doyle in a rather precarious position, and Doyle was nothing if not self-protective. But he'd long since admitted to himself that it was 'lerv'. Had to be. There was no other logical reason he would've put up with a man who put his socks in monochromatic order but left a trail of biscuit crumbs wherever he went. Christ, he'd even lent the bastard cash money once -- without asking for collateral! No, it was definitely love of the most desperate sort.
While that soft affection for his partner might not be readily evident to the casual observer, or even under close scrutiny if you happened to catch the razor edge of his tongue on occasion, the old adage held true. You always hurt the one you love. Doyle was forced to admit that there were times when Bodie might have preferred a nice, soothing partner who loathed him. Luckily he had Doyle, who was teaching him the gentle art of tolerance.
The truth, of course, was that Raymond Doyle had no intention of sticking his neck on the chopping block; not as long as there was a chance of finagling Bodie into doing it first. That way, if it turned out to be a fiasco, he could throw all the blame on his partner's widely muscled shoulders.
William Bodie had proved a strangely difficult man to seduce. Over the years, Doyle had tried everything, from subtlety to innuendo to jealousy. As time passed, he even threw subtlety out the window and tried the obvious approach. His jeans got tighter (with artful patches in strategic areas), his hair got longer and fluffier, he even broke down and bought a sexy silver bracelet to accentuate the thin elegance of his wrist. Bodie just smiled that devilishly gorgeous smile and plodded on, seemingly oblivious to all the effort on his behalf. Doyle took to wearing coats with fur collars and posing madly against doorways.
Doyle finished his shower and patted himself dry, leaving a few water droplets on his chest and thighs to catch the light. It proved a wasted effort, for when he padded back into the living room, still nude, Bodie was sound asleep on the couch.
Giving it up for the night, Doyle went to bed. As he reached over to shut off the lamp, he knocked over the bank calendar on the table. When he picked it up to set it right, he froze, staring at the date.
"Oh shit," he murmured. "Oh shit. So that's what it was."
He got up abruptly, pulling on a robe this time, and went back to the living room. Sitting down on the coffee table, he watched his partner for a long moment, wondering what to do about this.
Bodie was curled on his side, long legs tucked in to fit the short couch. One arm was curled around his stomach, clutching the blanket, the other cupping his face on the pillow. For the first time, Doyle noticed a rather nasty scrape high on the fair cheekbone. Other than that, the face held no clue of his nerve- wracking experiences. Asleep, with lashes tangled on his cheek, hair curling softly on his forehead, and the hardness of his normal expression lost, he looked more fourteen than thirty-four (thirty-five, Doyle corrected himself).
He reached out to touch Bodie's hair. Bodie stirred slightly, sensing another presence dangerously near. His nostrils quivered slightly, taking in Doyle's familiar scent, and he instinctively relaxed. Doyle felt strangely pleased by the evidence of Bodie's subconscious and total trust. Anyone else who came this close to him in sleep (especially after the day they just went through) would have had Bodie up and at their throat in a second.
Smiling fondly, Doyle gave the side of the couch a hard thump with his fist, jarring the sleeper.
Bodie moaned and turned his head deeper into the pillow.
Doyle shook his shoulder. "Eh! Wake up!"
Bodie grunted a curse and opened his eyes blearily. "Whas'up? What's wrong?" The eyes widened, suddenly more alert. "Problem?"
"No, nothing like that," Doyle assured him. "No bombs in the boudoir or terrorist on the terrace, if that's what you mean."
Bodie let his face fall back into the pillow. He mumbled into the pillowcase, "This better be good, Doyle."
Doyle crossed his legs on the coffee table and waited for Bodie to get curious enough to look up.
It took a couple of minutes, but Bodie finally did. "So, what is it then?" he growled.
Doyle grinned like a Cheshire cat. With the light at Doyle's back, the flashing teeth was about all Bodie could see of him. Bodie scrunched down a little so Doyle blocked the glare from his sleep-fragile eyes.
"I'll bet you thought I forgot your birthday, didn't you?" Doyle said accusingly.
Bodie's mouth fell open. Even Raymond Doyle couldn't be this cruel; to wake him up at 3:00 in the morning just to cover his tracks.
He was wrong about Doyle -- he was, indeed, just that cruel.
"You did, didn't you?" Doyle insisted in a hurt tone.
Bodie was amazed to realize he actually felt a tiny twinge of guilt until he remembered that his birthday ended at midnight, and that Doyle only went to art school because he figured he already knew more than LAMDA could teach him.
"Go to bed, Doyle," Bodie said quietly. "And if you wake me again, I shall very probably shoot you at close range with a high-caliber weapon loaded with hollow-point bullets. And I warn you, I shall aim for your pocketbook."
He turned over as best he could on the narrow couch, backside firmly presented to Doyle.
The sight gave Doyle pause for a moment, as he appreciated its fine shape and texture -- but he refused to let himself be distracted.
"No, listen. I didn't forget your birthday, Bodie, honest. If that's what's been bugging you all day --"
Bodie turned back over. "Doyle, people have been trying to put nasty big holes in me all day. I could've cared fuck-all about my birthday, okay? I was just overjoyed at the chance to see another one."
Doyle patted the blanket over a particularly vulnerable spot. "Come on, mate, you can't fool me. It bothered you when you thought I'd forgot, didn't it?"
Bodie sighed deeply. "Ray, listen very carefully. I look forward to my birthday all year long. Do you know why?"
Eyes wide, Doyle shook his head.
"Because of all 365 days in the year, I can count on, like clockwork, that it will be the worst, most miserable, horrendous day of the year. Once I've got that over, it's clear sailing. Now it's over, okay? Leave me alone!"
Doyle, whose hobby was beating dead horses, naturally wasn't satisfied. "I meant to bake you a cake, but what with all the running around an' all, I didn't exactly have the time. Still, I wanted you to know that I really didn't forget."
Bodie had enough. He sat up and faced Doyle, their noses no more than six inches apart. He smiled very slowly, very evilly. "So where's my pressie, then?" he demanded.
For a second, Doyle was stumped. He should've thought of this.
Bodie sat back, satisfied he had scored one. "Don't tell me you forgot?" Bodie rubbed it in with delight.
"Of course not," Doyle blustered it out. "Got you one last year, didn't I?"
Bodie snorted. "Oh yes. A bloody 8 X 10 of you in a silver frame. The silver's flaked off, by the way."
"Well, that's only because you got me and 8 X 10 glossy of bloody Cowley for my birthday," Doyle defended hotly.
Bodie had to chuckle appreciatively at that. It had seemed a lovely joke at the time, and Doyle had even displayed the hideous thing in his sitting room for a while.
"Okay. Touche. So what did you get me this year, then? A plaster cast of your bum?"
Doyle was silent.
Bodie lay back down and pulled the blanket up decisively, figuring he'd finally managed to make Doyle eat his words.
But he underestimated his partner.
"Your birthday present..." Doyle began.
Bodie's eyebrow shot up skeptically as he awaited the next attempt to wriggle out of it.
"...Three wishes," Doyle finished, intoning the words with a dramatic, mysterious flair that Bodie could never hope to match.
"I give you three wishes. Anything you want. You name it, it's yours."
Bodie sat up, much slower this time. "You want to say that again?"
"I mean it, mate. What's your first wish?"
"For you to let me go back to sleep," Bodie said promptly.
Doyle obediently unfolded his legs and started to rise. Bodie caught him, realizing Doyle meant business. After all, when was the last time he'd let him have the last word?
"Hold on a sec -- that one doesn't count! I was just testing you."
Doyle's head tilted to one side, considering it, looking for all the world like a genie consulting the cosmic rule book. "All right; I'll let that one slide. But, be careful what you wish for," Doyle warned him with solemn drama. "You might get it."
"Okay, what are the guidelines for this wish business?"
"No guidelines. Whatever you want."
"That's ridiculous, Doyle. What if I asked to have it off with Queen Elizabeth, for chrissakes?"
"I'd try to get you an introduction," Doyle replied flatly. "With your looks and charm -- who knows?"
"Sod off. Well...what if I wished for eternal life or something?"
Doyle looked him straight in the eye. "That's a wasted wish, sunshine. I try to get that for you every day, don't I?"
Bodie's throat suddenly felt tight. He looked down. "Ray, this is silly. You mean well, but you don't have to --"
Doyle's hand lifted Bodie's chin with infinite gentleness. "What's your first wish, Bodie?"
Bodie's stomach did a cartwheel. The cat-green eyes, the soft touch, Doyle's sweet expression were wreaking havoc with his much-vaunted self control. His defenses snapped up. Offense was the best defense -- hit them where they hurt most...
"I wish for you to buy me the most expensive, extravagant dinner in London," Bodie said quickly.
Doyle leaned forward and kissed Bodie very softly and quickly on the mouth. Before Bodie could react, he said, "Tomorrow night. Wear a tux. I'll pick you up at seven."
Still stunned by the heat of the sensual mouth, Bodie watched as Doyle disappeared into the bedroom.
It was nearly 10:00 the next evening as they walked down the quiet streets to the carpark where Doyle had left his car.
Bodie should have been delighted with the razz of the evening -- instead he was nervous. He should have been impressed by the fact Doyle had really spared no expense for once in his miserly life -- instead he was wary. He should have felt stuffed by the fantastic food and classy wine -- instead his appetite had deserted him early on, just looking across the table at a soft and glowing Ray, and now his stomach was tied in knots.
As they strolled down the pavement, Bodie kept glancing from under lashes at Doyle, wondering what the devil the twisted little sod was up to this time. Sweetness didn't suit the Ray Doyle he knew -- more accustomed to either a scowl or the guilty martyr look. Walking beside him was a good-natured angel with hair of copper-brown silk, a softly curving smile on a perfect mouth, green eyes twinkling in the street lamps. He looked good in a tux, Bodie had to admit. Not as good as he did, of course, but then the bugger wasn't about to rent something as natty and well-tailored as Bodie actually owned. Bodie's shirt had ruffles; Doyle's shirt was plain. Still, the austere style suited Doyle, with his riot of hair and beautiful, battered face. He was decoration enough without gilding the lily, as Bodie well knew from seeing the sod starkers often enough.
"Lovely night," Doyle offered, smiling.
"Looks like rain," Bodie responded dampeningly.
Doyle just smiled more and developed a jaunty little bounce to his step. "Good. Love storms, I do. Lots of lovely lightning an' thunder, and then a nice long, hard downpour."
Bodie bit his lip, wondering why Doyle could make bad weather sound so fuckin' sexy. Of course, Doyle could make anything sound sexy if he wanted to, hedonistic bastard.
Indecently gorgeous bastard.
When Doyle touched his arm, Bodie almost jumped out of his skin. "What?"
"Didn't you like it?"
"The dinner? The show?"
"'Course I did. Fantastic."
"What's the second wish then?"
Bodie didn't answer and refused to look at Doyle.
"Well?" Doyle asked eagerly.
"I'm still thinking," Bodie put him off.
He knew very well what Doyle wanted him to ask -- what he expected him to ask. It wasn't that he wasn't tempted; hell, he'd been panting for it for years, hadn't he? But what he didn't want was Doyle the flirt, Doyle the instinctive charmer, or Doyle the chameleon. He'd waited too long, and tried too hard to dredge up the real Raymond Doyle to give way under a ploy this obvious. It was almost disappointing. Ray used to be more cautious and clever in his tricks. Lately, he was becoming embarrassingly blatant. It was getting harder and harder to turn away and pretend indifference.
But Bodie was determined and very sure of what he wanted and he would never settle for less. Not with Ray. Even if he tied his balls in reefknots, he'd make Doyle make the first move; make the damn chameleon take form and stay steady for once. He didn't want to think of the consequences of settling for less. Erotic paradise, perhaps, but a certain emotional purgatory to follow, because Doyle would dance around and blow hot and cold, if for nothing more than to see Bodie squirm. Yes, Bodie knew his partner very well. He also knew none of it would be conscious. Doyle was not deliberately cruel or hard, but Doyle as much as Bodie had not had an easy life. Both had learned very young to be cautious, to test the waters before jumping in.
What had surprised Bodie more than anything was that Doyle appeared to be even more skittish than he. Someday, he swore, he would discover the reason behind that. For now, he was excessively careful himself. Willing to wait for the real article instead of settling for a reasonable facsimile. If he couldn't have the Ray Doyle that lived deep down beneath that sugar-coated pill that his partner presented to the world, he wanted none of it.
Glancing over at the sensual cat-face and the slender muscled body, Bodie amended that slightly. Okay, so he wanted it -- wanted it in the worse way. But he could handle all that; a quick jack-off in the shower (Bodie never thought deep thoughts in the shower) usually took the edge off. At least he thought he could handle it unless Doyle kissed him again. That one nearly did him in. In fact, Doyle had come within a hair of having a slobbering sex-maniac in his bed that night.
"Figured it out yet?" Doyle broke into his thoughts.
"Your wish. You've been thinking hard enough to have discovered a way to repeal the law of gravity. Give over. What's wish number two?"
Bodie felt like shaking him. Stop pushing!, Bodie thought furiously. I know what you want, and you can shove it for now, sweetheart. You're not nearly ready.
They had stopped under a street light, and Doyle leaned back against the plate glass window of a dry goods store. He propped his foot on the bricks below it and slid down a fraction of an inch to push out his hips.
Bodie wasn't sure whether to laugh or to drop to his knees and rip open the teasing tart's zip. What next? A billboard in Picadilly Circus saying, "BODIE, FUCK ME, YOU FOOL!"
"Well?" Doyle purred.
"Drop it, Ray," Bodie said tiredly. "Enough is enough. You brought me a wonderful dinner, and spent a bloody fortune. I appreciate it. It was very nice. Let's leave it at that, shall we?"
"Oh, now," Doyle said silkily. "You've still two wishes left."
Irritated, Bodie snapped, "All right, after the last few days, I bloody wish I could deflect bullets. Can you handle that, O Great Raymundo?"
As if on cue, there was the sound of tires squealing out of the nearby carpark. Before either of them could react, dull light gleamed off ominous metal. Bodie reached for his gun, knowing it was too late, knowing there wasn't a damn thing he could do to stop the bullet violating his body. There was nothing but a brick wall and store window behind him, nowhere to run, no time to think except to realize he should have known Milkis would have backups.
The sound of the shot echoed in the nearly empty street, ringing with a strangely metallic quality. There was a quiet yelp to Bodie's left, and he heard Doyle's shot go wide, shattering the windscreen of a parked car, before a musical explosion of tinkling glass joined in. Bodie leveled his own gun at nearly the same instant, but succeeded only in creasing the boot of the rapidly fleeing car.
For a split second, he delayed turning, eyes fastened to the thin metal pole directly in front of him -- no more than an inch wide. It was scarred now, and smoking a little with the heat of the bullet that had ricocheted off it.
Spinning around, he couldn't see Doyle for a moment. The plate window had dissolved in twinkling diamonds of glass shards. Even the muted force of the deflected bullet had driven Doyle back into the window, and he lay tangled and bleeding in a jumble of colored cloth that was rapidly being dyed in red.
"No." Bodie took a step forward, stopped. "No, god," he repeated reasonably. "Don't do this to me." It was probably a good ten seconds before he found the courage to step up into the display window. He dropped to his knees, ignoring the glass that sliced into them.
His hand was shaking when it touched Doyle's throat, and it took a minute before he was able to catch a pulse.
"Ray? Oh, please, Ray..."
The green eyes flickered and opened, looking directly into Bodie's. A siren wailed rhythmically in the background as the coppers came to investigate the disrupted alarm from the shop.
Bodie was too afraid to pull back the tattered jacket of the tux, petrified by what he might discover; knowing there was nothing he could do, whatever it was. Instead, he looked into Doyle's eyes and wished very hard. Anyone else might've called it praying, but Bodie had forsaken that myth long ago. Wishes were just as likely to come true, after all.
Doyle coughed a little, and the serene expression on his face momentarily screwed into a grimace of pain.
Bodie gingerly took his hand, fighting down the sob that choked his throat.
Doyle opened his eyes again, seeking Bodie's. "Tol' you, didn't I? 'Careful what you...wish for..."
Doyle was smiling ruefully when he passed out.
Hospital was very unpleasant, but it was an excellent place to revamp priorities. After heart attacks, people quit smoking. After strokes, people went on proper diets. After being shot, people sometimes realized they were being assholes.
Doyle had a good long time to think. Three weeks and several nasty nursing sisters made his appreciation of the free life most acute. His wound wasn't fatally serious, once the blood flow was stopped, but he developed an infection and a bad attitude, both of which contributed to his lengthy stay. Bodie didn't visit.
He had been informed by reliable sources, i.e., Cowley and Murphy, that Bodie hadn't budged from his room until the prognosis was clear. But the sod had been noticeably absent since.
Wasn't hard to figure. The bullet was meant for Bodie, obviously, it was only a serendipitous bit of fate that made it strike the slender line of metal post and turn to hit Doyle. It was lucky for both of them. If it had hit Bodie (and at that angle, it wouldn't have missed except for the few centimeters of pole in the way), he would have been dead immediately. But since it was a ricochet, the bullet had spent most of its force and the result was nasty, but not particularly dangerous. The fever came closer to taking him than the original bullet.
So Bodie was living on a hearty diet of guilt. Doyle knew that road so well, he could have walked it blindfolded. And, knowing Bodie, the man would never admit that he felt guilty at all. Wallowing wasn't Bodie's forte, and when he did it, he preferred to do it in private.
It was something of a surprise when Bodie actually showed up to pick him up when the hospital finally released him from their clutches. God knows, he felt fine. The stitches had been out a week before, and his fever hadn't popped up for two days. He should've been released much earlier, but the doctor had taken a distinct dislike to his smart mouth and punished him by keeping him "for observation". Surprisingly, Cowley hadn't fussed about it.
Obviously, that meant there wasn't spit going on at headquarters.
Bodie drove back to Doyle's flat in unusual silence. No nurse jokes, no ribbing him for losing his carefully cultured tan -- nothing. A few polite comments at the weather and how quiet it was at work was the extent of his conversation.
The would-be assassins had been caught quite easily as it turned out. By a traffic bobby, no less. The crooks had tried to run for it, panicked by the blue light, and had run themselves into a fence row. Bodie had delivered his testimony the week before, and everything was just peachy.
Except that Bodie was a stranger and Doyle knew it was his fault.
Once home, Doyle refused to be treated like the invalid his wasn't. The last week in hospital, he'd been more bored than tired. The pain of his wound had faded to no more than background noise long before that.
Bodie gave up trying to play nurse and moved to the window to push back the curtains, staring down at the street blankly.
"Bodie?" Doyle ventured.
"Are you mad at me?"
Bodie's fingers tightened on the drapes. "Probably."
"Because I don't like being scared."
Well, that was clear enough. Doyle prodded a little more, "It wasn't your fault, y'know. Just happened."
"Of course," Bodie replied coolly.
"Really," Doyle said earnestly, "stop blaming yourself for a stupid wish --"
He broke off as Bodie stiffened. He didn't turn, but every word was so carefully enunciated, Ray could clearly envision the hard pain in the darkly beautiful face.
"Wishes are stupid, Doyle. Like most everything else."
Doyle wanted very badly to touch the stiff shoulders, but knew better. "Oh, I dunno," he said casually. "Seems like you got your third wish at least."
At last, Bodie turned from the window. "Eh? What are you nattering about?"
Brazening it out, Doyle straightened. "First wish -- the dinner. Second wish -- deflecting bullets..." As Doyle expected, Bodie flinched at that. "Good deal for both of us, wasn't it?"
The blue eyes were wide and hurting.
Doyle smiled softly. "Bodie, it would've done you in, mate. You think I could've taken that? Give me a few tedious weekends in hospital every time. I repeat, it was lucky for both of us."
Bodie bit his lip and turned back to the window.
Again, Doyle almost went to him, wanting so much to touch, to soothe and love the tense form. But he held still for the moment and continued.
"So that accounts for two wishes. As for the third -- thanks, mate."
Bodie didn't move, but his head lifted. "Thanks for what?"
"For your third wish. I saw it in your eyes, Bodie," Doyle added gently. "In the window there, I was hurtin' like hell...scared, too. I saw what you wished and it worked, didn't it?"
Very slowly, Bodie turned around to face him. "Don't do this, Ray. Drop the whole thing right now. Please."
Surprised at the quiet intensity, Doyle pushed harder. "You don't have to be embarrassed, mate. I'd've done the same. If you'd been the one hurt, I'd've given anything to see you okay again. I know you're not one for saying things straight out, but I know it anyway."
Bodie continued to regard him solemnly.
Suddenly uneasy, Doyle added, "I'm right, aren't I? About your third wish. For me to be okay, right?"
Out of the blue, Bodie laughed. The sound was so bitter, for a second Doyle couldn't recognize it.
"Is that what you think I wished for? You're as big a fool as I am."
Speechless, Doyle stared at him. "You mean you didn't..." Incoherence resolved itself into outrage. "You didn't wish for me to be okay?! You mean I was layin' there, bleedin' to death an' you didn't even give a crap?"
Bodie's hand dismissed the idea as unimportant. "Of course I wanted you to be all right; don't be a prat. You asked me what I wished for. The third wish, remember?"
Doyle's mouth opened then closed. "That wasn't it then?"
"Oh no, that wasn't it." Bodie's smile was painfully sad.
"What then?" Doyle demanded hotly, unable to fathom what could be more vital than having himself in one nice uninjured piece.
Bodie's eyes dropped then lifted again to meet Doyle's with a defiant courage.
"For a few minutes there, I thought you were dying -- really dying."
"Yes," Doyle acknowledged, realizing how it had looked, and how Bodie must've felt.
"What I wished Doyle...Ray, I wished I wouldn't care so damn much." Bodie's voice was hardly more than a hoarse whisper. "I didn't think I could bear it, y'see, and all I could see was hurtin' forever...I wanted not to hurt...not to care so horribly much."
"Ah..." It was Doyle's turn to move away, to give himself room to figure this out.
Bodie, with a tremble in his voice, said, "I told you to leave it alone. I can't lie to you. Had to tell you the truth, didn't I. I'm sorry."
Doyle's mind was whirling, taking in the new information and trying to relate it to the stubbornly one-sided view of Bodie he had held. It threw everything into a spin. Made him rethink his entire strategy. He'd never doubted that Bodie loved him, but had never really accepted that Bodie loved him. No one hurt that much for a casual lay. Or even for a close mate -- not to the point of grilling yourself for protecting that secret core of feeling everyone guarded.
And Bodie had actually spilled it out, admitted it.
Doyle's walls dissolved like candy floss.
He spun around happily. "Well, you've still got another wish left, haven't you?"
Bodie, sunk in his own well-dug pit of condemnation, blinked. "What?"
"You've another wish left," Doyle explained casually. "The third one didn't come true. You did care, didn't you? You never stop caring?"
"Yes --" Caught, Bodie brought it out impulsively, but stopped when he realized what he'd admitted.
Doyle moved arrogantly to stand in front of him, eyes burning, body daring him to take what he wanted.
"So you have another wish left. They don't count if they don't come true. What do you want, mate -- and stop pissin' around."
Bodie stared at him, almost angrily. "You little son of a bitch. Don't you ever quit?"
Doyle moved even closer. "No, not until I get what I want. I love you, damn it."
Doyle was so close he could feel every muscle in Bodie's body tense.
Reaching up to touch the other man's face, Doyle said softly, "I lie beautifully, Bodie. But I don't lie about that. Ever."
The deep blue eyes studied the green ones intensely.
"Is it you, Ray? I only want you. Don't give me what isn't real."
"It's real," Doyle replied weakly. "It's scared, but it's real."
"Ah." Bodie folded him into his arms and held him so tightly Doyle wondered if his bones would creak. But then the embrace gentled and Bodie pushed him back to study him.
"You ready for wish number three?"
"I've been ready for a long time."
Bodie smiled. "No you haven't. Now, maybe. Not before."
Doyle wasn't sure he understood, but he couldn't think very well at the moment, not with Bodie's hands stripping him of his tee shirt and maneuvering him carefully in the direction of the bedroom.
Bodie left him long enough to turn on both of the lamps.
"This deserves full illumination," he said gruffly, before pushing Doyle down on the bed and peeling off the jeans. Standing by the bed, eyes fixed on Doyle, Bodie removed his own clothes, piece by piece by piece by piece. Not for the first time, Doyle wondered why Bodie insisted on so many layers of clothing. While it was extremely sexy watching them being stripped off, it did tend to try the patience.
Finally nude, Bodie still stood by the bed, looking down at Doyle.
The man shook his head in amazement. "That's it, isn't it?" he asked cryptically. "That's what's left when all the walls are down -- when it's just you."
Doyle shivered, suddenly terrified that Bodie would walk out on him. He knew then what Bodie felt in that damn store window. 'Don't let it hurt so much, please.' He looked up at Bodie, trying to rebuild the scattered defenses and finding them in tatters. Too late. It's me, and he's seen it. He'll hate it and I'll have nothing...
Bodie sat on the bed and ran his hand down Doyle's chest to his stomach. "Do you have any idea how beautiful you are -- really are?"
Doyle squirmed, both under the tickling touch and the intense scrutiny. Beautiful? No, he'd never thought that. Adequate, maybe. Sensual, definitely. Seductive, positively. But really beautiful? Not him -- that was Bodie. No artifice, no effort, not even conscious desire, and Bodie was perfect. A state Doyle had only just envied.
He felt horribly naked, and it wasn't a bareness of skin at all. Somehow he'd slipped and Bodie was seeing too much, something too deep for comfort. Defenses snapped up immediately and he smiled at Bodie, moving his body in just such a way.
The stinging slap on his face brought him up short.
"What did you do that for?" he asked sharply, rubbing his cheek.
"I told you before, I want you. Stop it, Ray. Stop changing on me. Be you, or I'll go find another bed with another stranger."
"I'm sorry," Doyle said shakily, "I didn't...don't leave me, Bodie."
Bodie softly kissed the cheek he'd just slapped. "I know you don't do it on purpose, love. But I want you, not something you think I want. I don't care what you do with the world -- wear your camouflage whenever you think you need it. But don't bring it to bed. Don't do it to me. There's no need."
Understanding what Bodie was asking was hard, accepting it was terrifying. When he'd thought of going to bed with Bodie, it had been a safe, noncommittal image -- the image he'd had of Bodie. Bodie kept his distance from everyone. Bodie kept to limits.
Not this Bodie apparently.
Looking into the darkly lashed blue eyes, Doyle melted. Okay, if Bodie wanted him, that's what he'd have. It would be so good to be able to let down his barriers with someone.
A fear struck him. What if he couldn't? What if Bodie was looking for something that was no longer there? He'd hidden for so very long...
The thought was interrupted by Bodie's mouth taking his. The kiss was gentle but devouring, demanding a response which Doyle willingly gave.
His fantasies of what sex would be like with Bodie evaporated very quickly. For all his rough and ready attitude, Bodie was very methodical. He seemed to think it his duty to lick every portion of Doyle's anatomy from ears downward. When Doyle felt the need to return the favor, however, Bodie pinned his hands and autocratically ordered him to be still.
Under other conditions, Doyle might have resented this, but it was difficult to feel insulted toward someone who was offering heavenly sensations to your body. That Bodie was incredibly aroused as well was obvious by his eagerness to take in as much of Doyle as he could in the shortest amount of time. To Doyle, however, it seemed like ages before Bodie made his way to the swaying cock. Once there, it was no less than three times he brought Doyle to the brink of explosion, and three times he made him hold. Doyle was wild at this point, frantic with his need. He'd freed his hands and explored the silky expanse within reach and he hungered for more.
Bodie stopped abruptly, more because he'd reached his own limit than for anything Doyle was feeling.
The blue eyes were blazing and hot. He knelt between Doyle's outstretched thighs, gaze raking down Doyle's body with the passion of an explorer inspecting a national wonder for the first time.
Doyle bent his knees and offered himself boldly.
Bodie hesitated. "Have you ever...?"
"Does it matter?" Doyle gasped. "Do it."
If it hurt -- and it did at first -- Doyle was too far gone to care much. It felt right; as he'd wanted to feel for so very long. Not so much being "taken" as being completed. Bodie was part of him and he wasn't alone any longer. Odd that something that was touted as being so unnatural felt so wonderful and so right.
Once inside him, Bodie moved with a slow, careful grace, building the sensation in gentle waves. There was an electric thrill every time he thrust, a feeling Doyle had never experienced before; one that made him seek for more, begging with his hips and hand for harder and deeper movements.
"Please..." he gasped. "Oh Bodie...please..."
Turned on even more by the excited encouragement, Bodie quickened his pace and the force of his assault. As Doyle's legs curled around him, he found a steady, powerful rhythm that had Doyle keening in delight. The sound pushed Bodie over the edge and he spilled out hotly deep inside Doyle. The reaction triggered Doyle's and he spurted out against their stomachs.
Bodie fell forward, feeling the wet heat drip down thickly from his side.
After a moment, he kissed Doyle deeply, exploring his mouth with an interest that obviously could no longer be merely sexual.
Finally, he moved to one side and gathered the trembling figure into his arms, still kissing and caressing the limp form.
Doyle's face was open and clean -- like a page waiting to be written upon, all mistakes and crossovers wiped free.
"You okay?" Bodie asked softly, knowing it was.
Doyle smiled triumphantly.
"Do I give good birthday presents, or what?"
-- THE END --
Originally published in Foxhole in a Graveyard, Spice Press, 1988